or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

The Dangers of Secondhand Flash Drives

   October 4th, 2007

See No Evil monkeyHere's a humorous story from Ohio (in fact, one town over from where I grew up). It's short, so read it before continuing...

...Okay, so it's funny for a couple reasons:

  • It happened at all
  • It happened to a politician, in a high school*
  • It happened because of something given to him by a librarian
  • A very similar thing happened to me

People leave/lose a lot of stuff in the library. The valuable things we collect up and keep in a "lost and found" at the desk. A lot of it is reclaimed, but some things have been here for years.

One of these long-term items happened to be a flash drive.

One day, I was asked to join a meeting at the last minute. They wanted me to demonstrate uploading images to our web server. The computer they were using was not connected to our staff network, but was using our public wireless to ftp to our web server.

I wanted to come prepared with images to upload, so I grabbed that flash drive from the lost and found, transferred a few library images to it, and went into the meeting (this is before my library provided flash drives).

When it was my turn, I plugged the flash drive into the laptop. It turns out that the person who owned the laptop had it set so that, when Windows automatically detected a flash drive, it would launch a picture viewer and display the images on the flash drive.

Guess what happened next.

My co-workers got an eye-full. Luckily it was all staff in the meeting, and no one was offended or called the police.

Potential morals of the story:

  • Always run through your presentation on the equipment you will use for your presentation before you give your presentation
  • Don't use things from the lost and found
  • If you're going to reuse a strange disk, format it first
  • If you save porn on a disk, don't lose it
  • Never save your porn in a root directory

Take your pick.

*I vaguely remember a similar story from awhile ago, but it ended differently. I couldn't find it on the interweb, but it went something like this: a school librarian (or teacher) was showing her class something on the internet. She accidentally clicked a wrong link, and opened a website that had porn popup windows. It didn't phase the kids, but when the parents found out, they got this person fired. I wish I could find an update to this, to see why a librarian (or teacher) lost their job but a politician didn't.

libraries, library, porn, pornography, public libraries, public library

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One Response to “The Dangers of Secondhand Flash Drives”

  1. Kat Says:

    We all know it was really you who put it on there… haha. I didn’t realize these incidents were such common occurrences.